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Marie Toye Oral History Interview: Pine Castle Pioneer Family

I remember Halloween gatherings and it was just a lot of fun. We’d all get together for Halloween night. It wasn’t any big deal, but we just enjoyed being  with each other. And where the women’s club is now there was a big gazebo and that’s where we all gathered right there on that gazebo. And they had a big plaque out front facing the street and it had all the servicemen’s names on it. I never will forget that… 

Florence Marie Bailey Toye, great granddaughter of Granny Harris, Pine Castle Pioneer, describes the blessings of growing up in Pine Castle during the 1930’s and 1940’s in this excerpt from an oral history interview on August 22, 2014.

LISTEN (21:09)

 

My name is Florence Marie Bailey Toye. I was born in Pine Castle, Florida… I was born in the house right across from Randolph’s Road from the schoolhouse on the corner of Randolph and Van Buren at the time. And then my father bought property down the road, a block down the road and we moved down there and my sister was born in that house. [My father] he was a beekeeper of sorts. He died, he had a ruptured appendix, and he was buried on my third birthday. So I don’t remember that much about my father.

School Days

I went to school at Pine Castle School until the seventh grade. And then we went to Cherokee Junior High School and then to Orlando High School. I was in the last class at Orlando High and went to Boone High and I was in the first class at Boone High. Miss Hoffner was my first grade teacher. My third grade teacher was Mrs. Johns and she happened to be married to my uncle. So I had a pretty good third year in school. You know, that’s about it, I can remember the others, but those are the ones that stand out in my mind. [Hoffner Road?] Yes, the road was named after her husband’s family…. We’d go home and have lunch and my great grandmother’d go down and cook us lunch. And we‘d eat a big plate of French fries. Oh, those were the best French fries. And then we’d go back to school. And that’s the way we were. We were just country people. We walked to school and walked home for lunch and then walked back to school. And our old dog Fuzz he was right there with us all the way. Memories.

Hauling the Brick for Paving Orange Avenue

My step grandmother Janey Johns lived a half block up the street from us. She married my great grandfather. It was the second marriage for both of them. She was very good to us. Yes, she was home all the time. My grandfather, Edward Johns, he could do most anything. He could build a house or drive a school bus, whatever it took to make money. He originally, he told me, he originally hauled the brick that paved Orange Avenue. He was a hardworking man. But at meal time, at twelve o’clock you sit down and eat at granddaddy’s, that was lunch. At five o’clock you sit down and eat supper, that was an iron clad rule. He was kind of strict, but he was all right. Edward Johns. He was my mother’s father. Yes. He wasn’t a big man. But it was strength. He had the most strength. [Dinner] Usually mashed potatoes and a little meat, gravy, and a vegetable and that was it. And iced tea. There was always iced tea because it was hot. It was so hot. No air conditioning, no nothing. That’s just the way it was. 

Sundays

Oh, we got up and went to Sunday School and church. Come home and ate and just played. And then we went back to church that night. And that was it. That was a typical Sunday. Sometimes some of the family would come in for lunch and sometimes we would go to their house, but usually it was just family time. Yes, First Baptist Church of Pine Castle. I was baptized at Crittenden’s Dock in Lake Conway right behind the church that’s there now on Hoffner. Yeah, I remember it. I like to froze to death. It was like April or May and the water was still a little bit chilly. And, of  course, we all had to go down into that water with all our clothes on. Well, you come out of that water with those wet clothes – you’re cold! But that’s all right. We made it. It made us tough, I guess…. 

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First Baptist Church of Pine Castle

It’s just moved down on Hoffner. When I first, when I went to Sunday School and Church it was on the corner of Hoffner and Orange, but now its on the corner of Randolph and Hoffner. [Is that still the church you attend?] Yes, it is happily so. [Church activities?] They usually had Gatherings on the Ground. The women brought the home-cooked meals and that’s what we did. I just remember once a year. We had a big Easter egg hunt for the children. We’d go down to the lake and hide the eggs and stuff like that.

Lake Conway

We spent our time in Lake Conway. We swam. We’d go down there in the mornings and swim. We’d go home and eat lunch and go back and swim. Come back home and eat supper. That’s just the way. All of us did that. Oh, it was so pretty. It’s a lot different now. That’s how I spent my summer. Oh, I’d get so brown. We were outside. It was too hot to be in. It was just so hot. The lake cooled us off. And all of us could swim. It was that or drown one or the other. And we just spent all our spare time, which was a lot, in that lake. Everybody said, “Weren’t you scared of gators?” I think the gators were scared of us. But I don’t know. They never bothered us I’ll put it that way… Our house was a block and a half from Little Lake Conway; a block and a half from big Lake Conway. So I could go swimming anytime I wanted to. I wish people could know today the love that we had for that. We didn’t know it at the time. We didn’t know it. But, it’s a memory. It’s a good memory.

Military Service

My father served in the military before I was born. And the only reason I know that is because I have pictures of him. I married an Air Force man and we left Pine Castle. We were gone about twenty years. He’s from Pennsylvania. We got ready to come home I said, “Wait a minute you’re from Pennsylvania I’m from Florida, where do we go?” He said, “We’re going to Pine Castle.” And that’s where we came back to. Oh, he loved it. He loved it! He just thought that was home… Yes, a lot of our boys [from Pine Castle] went in the service. Most of all the young boys enlisted and went in the service...

The Gazebo

I remember Halloween gatherings and it was just a lot of fun. We’d all get together for Halloween night. It wasn’t any big deal, but we just enjoyed being  with each other. And where the women’s club is now there was a big gazebo and that’s where we all gathered right there on that gazebo. And they had a big plaque out front facing the street and it had all the servicemen’s names on it. I never will forget that… 

Community Life

We were a together group of people. We just worked together. We watched each other’s children. If they did something wrong or if they did something right the whole neighborhood knew about it. That’s just the way it was. And now I don’t even know some of my neighbors that live across the street down the road a little bit. I don’t even know their last name. It was not that way when we were growing up. We knew everybody. Kin to half Pine Castle, but I was kin to quite a few people. It was just home. We were all poor, but we didn’t know it. We had no idea. We just all pulled together.    

Baseball

The older boys they all played baseball a lot. We all went to games. Everybody went to watch the guys play baseball… Yeah, right on the corner of Hansel and Walton was the ball field and we all gathered there and they played ball. Usually on Sunday afternoons everybody was at the ball game….

Blessed to grow up the way we did…

There were no shops in Pine Castle except a grocery store, drug store, liquor stores. I don’t remember eating in a restaurant. We always ate at home. Now my grand children don’t want to eat at home. They want fast food. But we enjoyed it. I just think that we were blessed to have grown up the way we did. All of us grew up honest and, you know, we weren’t bad people at all. You slept and you went to bed at night and you left your windows open and your doors unlocked and you never thought a thing about it. That’s just the way it was and it would be nice if we could do that today. That’s how I feel.

LISTEN (01:01)

 

 

President Roosevelt

I remember President Roosevelt. I was in the hospital having my appendix out and the nurse came in the room. And I had a radio in my room. And I told her that President Washington had just died and she said, “No, he’s been dead a long time.” And I said, “I’m telling you the President just died.” And she came back in my room in a few minutes and she was crying. And all the nurses everybody in the hospital was crying. Because our President, our beloved President had just died. And it was, we all loved him. We all thought that he was just precious to us. It’s a shame it’s not that way today. I remember that and I wish it could be that way again.

LISTEN (02:13)

 

Pine Castle Pioneer Family

My great grandmother came from Georgia in a buckboard wagon with I think three children. Her husband had been killed in the war. And Sherman was burning Georgia to the sea. And she left Georgia, their home in Georgia, and came south. And that’s how all of us got started. She remarried; remarried William Harris. And that’s where I’m from is the Harris side of the family. [And they settled] in Kissimmee and Pine Castle. That’s right. She was a Hansel when she came down here and they said, they asked her to give a speech at Fort Gatlin and she stood up on whatever they had at that Fort – she got up on that thing and she raised her hand and said, “Damn the Yankees!” And that’s all she said. And that’s my great grandmother. The family all called her Granny Harris, but her name was Nancy King Hansel Harris. She died the year before I was born. I’m just telling you what the family told me. And everybody talks about it – her speech... 

LISTEN  (01:40)

 

Pine Castle Homesteaders

My great grandfather was Joseph Earl Johns and he built a lot of the houses in the Pine Castle area. And there’s still some of those standing today. And my step great grandmother that cooked my sister’s and I’s meals lived in that house til she died. And it’s still standing and people are living in it today. And my grandfather was born in Oakridge which is my understanding where Oakridge Cemetery is today. And they said that his father was born in Pine Castle also… A lot of them knew what it was like to fight Indians and all that. Oh, yeah. Sure did. They’d come in kind of filter in from down south a little bit. I never saw any, but they would talk about it – the Indians. Or, they’d come begging for food sometimes. Must have been an interesting time.

 

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125th Anniversary 1887-2012 First Baptist Church Pine Castle
Cover illustration for the 125th Anniversary publication for the First Baptist Church of Pine Castle, 1887-2012, with church history, mission, chronol...
Florence Marie Bailey Toye
Florence Marie Bailey Toye, great granddaughter of Granny Harris, Pine Castle Pioneer, describes the blessings of growing up in Pine Castle during...
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125th Anniversary 1887-2012 First Baptist Church Pine Castle

125th Anniversary publication for the First Baptist Church of Pine Castle, 1887-2012, with church history, mission, chronology of events, community history and photos.

Excerpt:

The First Baptist Church of Pine Castle began in 1887 when several families felt the need for a place to call their spiritual home. The church consisted of 26 members and for a while they met in homes and school buildings. About 1900, the Baptists joined together with the Methodists and Christian Missionary Alliance members to build the Union Church at the corner of South Orange Avenue and Wallace Street. In 1913, the Baptists moved into their own building at the corner of Orange Avenue and Hoffner Avenue...


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